Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

September 18, 2012

PikeView girls off to 8-2-1 start

Soccer squad has fought through key injuries

GARDNER — PikeView’s girls soccer team isn’t bowing to adversity.

The Panthers lost three longtime starters last May to graduation, then had another standout and two promising freshmen lost in the preseason or in early games with injuries.

Yet, PikeView is off to a surprising 8-2-1 start.

“If at the beginning someone would have said we’d be at .500 now, I’d been satisfied with it,” coach Sam Hill said. “We’ve had two losses, each by one goal. We’ve been in all of our matches so far.”

The Panthers have been winning with talent, smarts and more than a little guts.

The roster was small in numbers to begin with, and the three big knee injuries have left them with just 14 available players — 11 starters and three subs.

Junior forward Hope Nester, who scored an unofficial state record 52 goals last season, required ACL surgery after injuring her knee while playing AAU basketball last summer. She’ll miss soccer season, but should be back for basketball.

Freshman midfielder Sydnee Staton was hurt in a preseason scrimmage and had surgery, but could return to play later in the season.

Maranda Keaton, another freshman midfielder-wing, hurt her knee in an early game and is facing surgery. She’s probably out for the season.

And of course there’s the usual sprains, strains and bruises incurred in every game.

“It seems like somebody is nursing something,” Hill said. “They’ve had to tough it out and play when they could.”

Superb senior leadership from Laura Hill and Charlotte Webster has played a huge role in the team’s success.

Hill, daughter of the coach and his assistant coach / wife Angie Hill, moved up to striker this season to replace Nester and has scored 27 goals in 10 games. She was Class AA-A state midfielder of the year in 2011.

Webster, who plays hard despite having torn both ACLs during her career, is an attacking midfielder who has 7 goals and 12 assists.

“Those two have played at the highest level they could play at, and done the things we needed to be successful,” Sam Hill said.

“What separates Laura from other good players is her technical ability. She plays a lot of soccer on a competitive level in the offseason.

“If Charlotte had played four (full) years, she would be known as one of the best players in the area. She controls the middle of the field for us.”

Obviously the rest of the Panthers have stepped up their games as well: PikeView has outscored foes 47-12, and its only losses were to Robert C. Byrd (2-1) and Woodrow Wilson (3-2).

Freshman goalkeeper Kristen Brinkley has recorded five shutouts, including a 1-0 victory Saturday at Pocahontas County.

“Kristen has matured, both physically and mentally,” Hill said. “She has a lot of confidence.”

Sophomore sweeper Shyann Carr has a good understanding of the game, and excellent speed.

“Not many players we see can outrun Shyann,” Hill said. “She can be pretty aggressive pushing up the field because she has the confidence she can get back.”

The rest of the defensive backfield includes junior Kassie Catron, who is left-footed and very quick; sophomore Crysta Meekins, a hard-nosed player unafraid to put a shoulder on somebody; and stopper Courtney White, athletic with good size.

Junior Brooke Baker, experienced and a team leader, and freshman Sophie Klein, who also runs cross country, join Hill in the midfield, while freshman Madison May, excellent at crossing the ball, and sophomore Courtney Gray, small but quick, play on the wings.

Juniors Bethany Bryant and Brittany Kinder, and freshman Tyler Farmer are the reserves.

The Panthers have eight matches remaining before sectionals, including one today at Midland Trail.

“We’re still very young and learning a lot about ourselves,” Hill said. “As our health improves and we develop confidence, I think we’ll improve as a team.

 “We still have a long way to go.”

— E-mail: dstillwell@

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